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Let Freedom Run!
Thousands of DC’s finest athletes will be pulling on their ranger panties, lacing up their combat boots, and draping their American Flags around their shoulders this weekend in support of the 32nd Annual Army Ten-Miler. I will be among them – coughing, wheezing, cramping, and whining my way to the finish line (best case scenario).
Although running long distances and struggling to breathe aren’t among my favorite activities, supporting military men and women and being obnoxious about my national pride are. (Benny Johnson knows exactly what I’m talking about.) If you’re nodding your head right now thinking “yeah, same” then you definitely need to check out these tips that will either keep your mind off your total lack of athleticism or fool you into thinking you had some athleticism to begin with.
Find a pace runner
One of the first things I do during a race is pick out a pace runner. I tend to choose really tall guys or girls with bright outfits so I don’t lose them in a crowd, but what’s important is that they are just slightly faster than I am. That way, I feel just bad enough about my athletic ability to push harder than I would if I didn’t have someone holding me “accountable” for my performance, even if it’s just the crazy voices in my head.
Run with a slower wave
Anyone who has ever run in a race knows that waves divide the athletes from the, uh, non-athletes – a modern day caste system, if you will. If pace runners don’t work for you, try dropping down into a later wave. The false sense of superiority you feel over your fellow runners may be just the boost you need to cross the finish line confidently.
Read the signs held up by bystanders
Have you ever read the signs people make to cheer on runners during races? If not, you should. They’re hilarious and are the perfect distraction from the hell that is running. Some are just plain nice. Some are lies… but the kind we all appreciate. Some offer much needed perspective, and some are just funny, witty, and amazing. Huge high-fives to the incredible people who take the time to go to Michaels, buy art supplies, spend hours thinking about and making these treasures and then wake up insanely early to make a stranger’s day.
Take in DC
In case you forgot, DC is incredible. Each step you take has already been taken by someone much cooler – like a Founding Father, an angry 60s protestor, or your mom. That’s a pretty cool thing to think about when you need to take your mind off the blister forming over your entire foot. If that doesn’t work, try to look beyond the sweaty guy in front of you and appreciate this beautiful city. Whether it’s the Pentagon, the Washington Monument, or the Memorial Bridge, the sights along the race route are unparalleled.
Enjoy the entertainment
What’s better than a band playing a patriotic tune? A band of uniformed service members playing a patriotic tune – that’s what! Along the route, military bands will be playing rousing songs sure to put the pep in your step and fill your patriotic heart with pride (and maybe the will to soldier on during those brutal middle miles when you’re bored and tired.)
Keep an eye out for the Who’s Who of DC
Out of the 3,500 District dwellers participating in the race, there are bound to be some famously familiar faces. Picking them out of the massive crowd will be like a sweatier, physically exhausting version of the beloved road trip game, I-Spy. If you know of any people running who you want to give shout-outs to, tweet us! [For example: I have it on good authority that Kathryn Lyons will be trotting along with a Camelback full of vodka. If you give her a piggy back ride between miles 2 and 8 she’ll probably let you have a swig.]
At the end of the day, whether you’re God’s gift to running or simply someone who likes to work up a good sweat before brunch, the important thing is you’re getting out there in support of our military men and women. Hooah!